Zach O’Brien Nets Two to Lead Wichita Thunder to 3-1 Victory
After winning their first two games of the season over the Indy Fuel, the Wichita Thunder continued their four-game homestand Saturday night against the Rapid City Rush. This was a game dominated by the Thunder, as they outshot Rapid City 34-25 on their way to a 3-1 victory. Zach O’Brien scored two goals for Wichita and Joel Rumpel made 24 saves in earning his second victory of the year.
Both teams had their chances early on, but Rush netminder Christian Frey and Thunder goalie Joel Rumpel kept this scoreless. However, a little over 10 minutes into the period Wichita took lead.
At the 10:33 mark, Samuel Labrecque took a shot on net that Frey was able to save, however, the puck bounced right onto the stick of Kyle Platzer. The Thunder forward put the puck back on net, but Frey delivered another great save. However. Platzer was not to be denied, tucking the rebound into the net to make it 1-0. It was Platzer’s second goal of the season.
The lead looked like it would be two when, with three minutes left in the first period, Travis Brown made a pass to Louick Marcotte who was streaking in from the right side of the net. Marcotte made a great move to his backhand, but Frey was able to kick his leg out and somehow keep the puck out of the net.
Just 44 seconds later, the Wichita Thunder would extend their lead to two. Matt DeBlouw carried the puck behind the net, and fired a great pass out in front to Zach O’Brien who was cruising down the slot. O’Brien buried the puck up high for his first goal of the year to make it 2-0.
The second period became a game of spurts where the Thunder would have three or four shots in a row, then the Rush would put up three or four on net. With about five minutes left in the second, Wichita had a series of opportunities to score, but could not get the puck in the net.
That proved to be unfortunate, as Rapid City would make this a one-goal game with 3:42 left in the period. Michael Young made a great outlet pass from the Rush zone to Darik Angeli who was waiting at the Thunder blueline. He carried the puck in on a near breakaway, and took a wrist shot that Rumpel saved, but Angeli recovered his own rebound and put it back in for his second goal of the season.
The Thunder responded by putting the pressure back on Frey, but the goalie stood tall. Finally, with just 11 seconds left in the period, Platzer brought the puck along the left side boards. He fell down, and looked like he would lose control of the puck, but managed to quickly get to his feet, and pass the puck to Guillaume Asselin. The defenseman fired a shot that O’Brien tipped near the front of the goal and into the net for his second goal of the game. That extended the lead back to two.
In the third, the defense for both teams tightened. There were still opportunities to score, but no one was getting another shot past the Wichita Thunder goalie. Joel Rumpel (2-0-0) finished with 24 saves on 25 shots.
Zach O’Brien scored his first two goals of the season and added an assist. Kyle Platzer added a goal and an assist. Christian Frey made 31 saves for the Rush.
Tomorrow these two teams will square off in a late afternoon affair. The puck drops at 4:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier